#16: Cat Power - The Greatest
This is a great album of Southern songs in a style Chan Marshall has played with for years. On The Greatest, she seems more dedicated to her roots, and this release seems a little more personal (although Cat Power has never been impersonal) than others. Try this one out on sunny or rainy days. The sound is lush and bright--golden, actually. Considering there is only one deadly sad song on the album, you can count on coming away happier. You can find her on The Hype Machine.
#17: Hylozoists - La Fin du Monde
This album is a product of one musician (Paul Aucoin of The Sadies) and his drive to collaborate with everyone in Canada. It is full and orchestral, both mellow and playful, now and then taking a graver turn. Above all, it is pretty, and that goes for every song. Sometimes I wonder how people making pretty music all the time deal with frustration. Maybe they just listen to thrashier stuff between sessions? Not so with Aucoin. Check out the end of this masterpiece: La Fin du Monde
#18: Aloha - Some Echoes
I still marvel at how unlikely some of my own picks are at the end of the year. I ran across Aloha on marathonpacks this summer and loved their sound, so I set about collecting all I could. The first song I listened to (Brace Your Face) stuck. In fact, it's my favorite song of the year. Listen to the haunting, syncopated use of percussion, the grandiose runs, and the lyrics--the LYRICS! The rest of the album is great, too, but I had to make sure you listened to this song. Epic.
#19: Tom Waits - Orphans
I don't want to join the pool of ink spilled about this release (--is it ink if it's electronic?). Still, I have to say that I love it, and that it captures everything I like about Tom Waits. He stands by his desire to use his voice as an instrument to its fullest extent, in every imaginable way. I was excited to find an old favorite re-released on disc 3. Viva Disney! Feel the rumble. Now to get a hold of a legit copy and it's luscious 94-page booklet. Heigh Ho
#20: Maritime - We, The Vehicles
Ha ha ha! Not everything can be dark or even varied! Maritime is a one-trick puppy, the project of the Promise Ring's singer/guitarist and drummer along with the bassist from the Dismemberment Plan. It reminds me of high school, in good ways, and the emotastic subject matter is toned down (along with the vocals) to an easy listen that still pleases after 100+ listens. Twins